Iran advocacy group said to skirt lobby rules
Washington Times
13-Nov-2009 (2 comments)

Now a lawsuit has brought to light numerous documents that raise questions about whether the organization is using that influence to lobby for policies favorable to Iran in violation of federal law. If so, a number of prominent Washington figures could come to regret their ties to the group.

Among NIAC's advisory board members are former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, and John Limbert, a former U.S. hostage in Iran, was a board member until his recent appointment as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran.

Mr. Pickering, reached by The Times, acknowledged he is on the board but said he has never attended a meeting and is not familiar with the organization's operations. Based on his participation in two panels on Capitol Hill, he said, he did not think NIAC was a lobby.

Mr. Limbert declined to comment, citing his new position, but has appeared at NIAC conferences in the past and expressed admiration for the organization and for its charismatic leader, Trita Parsi.

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Law enforcement experts who reviewed some of the documents, which were made available to The Times by the defendant in the suit, say e-mails between Mr. Parsi and Iran's ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Javad Zarif - and an internal review of the Lobbying Disclosure Act - offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.







Does Washington have an Iran lobby?

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 6:48pm

As Washington debates President Obama's new engagement strategy with
Iran, few have been more prominent or more controversial than Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

a young and charismatic Iranian scholar with deep ties to the Obama
team, has faced whisperings and blogosphere rumblings from
conservatives that he has too many connections to the Iranian
government or is working on their behalf. Those allegations went public
in a long article today in the Washington Times, which accuses Parsi of violating lobbying disclosure rules and the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Reams of documents were provided to the Times by the defendant in NIAC's defamation lawsuit against Hassan Daioleslam,
who they allege has links to identified terrorist groups, and who has
been accusing NIAC of being too close to the Iranian government.

Previously unreported documents provided by NIAC to The Cable show that Daioleslam was working with neoconservative author Ken Timmerman as early as 2008 and that their moves on Parsi were part of a larger effort to thwart Obama's Iran policy.

"I strongly believe that Trita Parsi is the weakest part of the Iranian web because he is related to Siamak Namazi and Bob Ney," Daioleslam
wrote in one e-mail dated April 2, 2008, "I believe that destroying him
will be the start of attacking the whole web. This is an integral part
of any attack on Clinton or Obama."

Namazi is a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy with whom
Parsi has worked. The e-mails show that Parsi and Namazi coordinated
efforts to make recommendations to administration officials.

Tim Kapshandy,
a lawyer for Sidley Austin LLP, came to represent Daioleslam in 2009.
Upon seeing the e-mails about Parsi and Namazi, he accidentally sent a
note to both of them. The note read, "Send it to [Washington Times
reporter Eli] Lake right away!"

"This is not as much
targeting us, the end objective seems to be, according to these
e-mails, to bring down Obama," Parsi said of the emails in an interview
with The Cable.

In another previously unreported memo obtained by The Cable, it appears that Parsi tried to start an official lobbying organization on Iran, back when he was an unpaid advisor to now disgraced former Rep. Bob Ney. Sent by Parsi from his congressional e-mail account to ex-Bush aide Roy Coffee and former Ney chief of staff David Di Stefano, the memo talks
about a "strategic partnership" between the new lobbying organization
and NIAC and says that Parsi would be the lobbying group's executive

The memo was entitled, "Towards the creation of an Iranian-American lobby."

said of his plans to establish an official lobbying group, "There were
discussions that continued for a few months but nothing came out of it...
We later became more active on foreign policy in the sense that we
would take positions... that happened in 2006."